20 Gallon Tank Adding a little something to existing community

ninetyinone

Hello, I'm thinking about adding a little to my current stocking. I'd be pushing it a little but I'm comfortable with that. The tank is actually a little over 20G, but with the substrate and hardscape the volume is probably equivalent. Currently:

9 Cherry barbs - The plan will be to rehome 2 of the males. I had asked for 3 males and was mistakenly given 5 (when juvenile so harder to sex)
6 kuhli loaches - will be getting 2 more to add to the kuhli pile.
1 mystery snail - getting on in age methinks.

It's a planted tank with a thick nest of pennywort as my fast growing plant. I trim a bit every water change. Lots of hiding places with cave like pieces of driftwood. I do a 20% water change every 2 weeks just to remove some of the debris, nitrates haven't gone beyond <20ppm. I'm on the fence about getting more fish - I like how peaceful it currently is, but part of me also wants a little more activity when I walk up to the tank. Thoughts as below:

  1. Pygmy cory - I think these guys are so cute but I'm not sure if they'd add the action that I want in this tank. I'd be looking to do at least 8, and only after I remove the 2 now adult cherry barbs.
  2. Gold Panchax - I like the idea of these because they'd be predominantly surface dwelling fish. I'd get 1 male and 2 females. I've heard conflicting things about how they work with cherry barbs though. I'd think that they wouldn't be big enough to be able to eat a fully grown barb? I'm not really interested in breeding fish so I'm not worried about keeping eggs/fry.
  3. One male dwarf gourami - I think they're mostly surface dwellers, I've heard about aggression and gourami virus so this would be a bit hit and miss.
  4. One male honey gourami - I'd kind of feel bad about keeping this little guy by himself, but not sure I want to commit to a male and 2 females
  5. Long fin gold zebra danios - I'd get about 6. Would be concerned about getting food to the kuhlis but not a big deal.
  6. Threadfin rainbows - the only thing holding me back from this is that I'm not sure if they're surface dwellers? I might do 2 males and 5 females if so.
  7. Guppies! Maybe 6 males of assorted colours. As a last ditch 'I just want something' thing
Thanks for reading
 

Deku-Cory

You might be able to get by with the 5 male Cherry Barbs. I have 10 males and 5 females who've never had any serious issues despite the completely off ratio. The boys really don't bother the ladies much compared to other species of fish.

I also think that they would be fine with the Gold Panchax once they're a decent size. Cherry Barbs are absolute units when they're mature, they're girthy compared to something like a Zebra Danio. GIF included below to show the size of my mature Cherries. I hope this helps!
 
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JtheFishMan

Hello, I'm thinking about adding a little to my current stocking. I'd be pushing it a little but I'm comfortable with that. The tank is actually a little over 20G, but with the substrate and hardscape the volume is probably equivalent. Currently:

9 Cherry barbs - The plan will be to rehome 2 of the males. I had asked for 3 males and was mistakenly given 5 (when juvenile so harder to sex)
6 kuhli loaches - will be getting 2 more to add to the kuhli pile.
1 mystery snail - getting on in age methinks.

It's a planted tank with a thick nest of pennywort as my fast growing plant. I trim a bit every water change. Lots of hiding places with cave like pieces of driftwood. I do a 20% water change every 2 weeks just to remove some of the debris, nitrates haven't gone beyond <20ppm. I'm on the fence about getting more fish - I like how peaceful it currently is, but part of me also wants a little more activity when I walk up to the tank. Thoughts as below:

  1. Pygmy cory - I think these guys are so cute but I'm not sure if they'd add the action that I want in this tank. I'd be looking to do at least 8, and only after I remove the 2 now adult cherry barbs.
  2. Gold Panchax - I like the idea of these because they'd be predominantly surface dwelling fish. I'd get 1 male and 2 females. I've heard conflicting things about how they work with cherry barbs though. I'd think that they would be big enough to be able to eat a fully grown barb? I'm not really interested in breeding fish so I'm not worried about keeping eggs/fry.
  3. One male dwarf gourami - I think they're mostly surface dwellers, I've heard about aggression and gourami virus so this would be a bit hit and miss.
  4. One male honey gourami - I'd kind of feel bad about keeping this little guy by himself, but not sure I want to commit to a male and 2 females
  5. Long fin gold zebra danios - I'd get about 6. Would be concerned about getting food to the kuhlis but not a big deal.
  6. Threadfin rainbows - the only thing holding me back from this is that I'm not sure if they're surface dwellers? I might do 2 males and 5 females if so.
  7. Guppies! Maybe 6 males of assorted colours. As a last ditch 'I just want something' thing
Thanks for reading
Personally, I would go for some colorful guppies. Like you stated for the gouramis, they may be a hit or miss with the aggression level. Guppies are peaceful to just about any fish out there and are very colorful and active, so it will fit the "more activity" aspect you want. Also, they don't produce a large amount of waste, so it should be no problem.
 
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Megaanemp

You might be able to get by with the 5 male Cherry Barbs. I have 10 males and 5 females who've never had any serious issues despite the completely off ratio. The boys really don't bother the ladies much compared to other species of fish.

I also think that they would be fine with the Gold Panchax once they're a decent size. Cherry Barbs are absolute units when they're mature, they're girthy compared to something like a Zebra Danio. GIF included below to show the size of my mature Cherries. I hope this helps!
I find it interesting to see how everyone has different experiences with keeping male and female cherry barbs together! I have 3 males in my 75 gallon and started with 6 females but added 2 more because my boys are so crazy! lol. I wonder if having a larger number of males encourages them to spend more time bugging each other than the females? My cherry barbs are also massive. I hadn’t noticed until I added the 2 more females I’ve had them for 4-5 months but they’re still half the size of the females I’ve had for 1 year.


As for what to add to the tank in question, I don’t know about all the fish you mentioned but I do think a pair of honey gourami or some Pygmy Corys could fit in nicely.

I have a pair of honey gourami, sometimes the male bothers the female a bit too much but she’ll tell him off and they go about their day. I would be worried that they’d actually do damage to each other but of course Gouramis have very individual personalities. They do have quite a small bioload so the difference of adding 3 honey gourami as opposed to 2 wouldn’t be a huge deal. It depends on how you want the tank to look. If you get a male/female pair make sure you have a part of the tank with little to no surface agitation so the male can build his bubble nest. He’ll still try if the water isn’t calm but will likely be frustrated as the bubbles just keep popping.

I purchased a school of 13 Pygmy Corys just a couple days ago. They are so much fun to watch, I can’t wait until they’re fully settled in. They are very gentle and graceful yet also very goofy. I’ve been told they do best in a school of at least 10 but they are very small. Keep in mind though the one so the store might be even much smaller than the adult size. If you aren’t someone who quarantines, you may need to with these guys a couple individuals from the batch I got would be small enough to be mistaken as food by fish about the size of adult cherry barbs.
 
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FishAndDoom

I probably wouldn't go for the golden killies unless they're already fully grown out. I recently picked up a couple juvies (one was a little less than two inches, the other was two and a half) and both were killed by my Colombian tetras. I also would never keep a honey gourami alone, they need a little group.

My favorite from the fish you've presented is the dwarf gourami, just from a visual and behavioral standpoint. But DGIV is a huge issue. I've tried two DGs within the last five years or so, both dropped dead from it. They're a fish I'd love to keep but I'm not willing to put up with the hassle of DGIV.
 
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ninetyinone

Thanks for everyone's responses!! I think we've gotten one vote for just about every fish I put up there haha. Makes me feel better for being so indecisive.

I think I might sit on it for a bit longer, leaning towards honey gourami trio for something to occupy the mid/top level of the tank. Excluding dwarf gouramis from the list because it would just be sad to get a fish just have it die for reasons out of your control. Or I might try another pseudomugil species, except I'll have to fix the lid of my tank first. But then again pygmy corys are just so darn cute, I don't know if I'll be able to turn away from them completely (...so basically, I'm still indecisive).

And maybe I'll do a separate, dedicated guppy tank! Be a cheerful thing to walk up to every day and they won't be able to annoy anything but each other

You might be able to get by with the 5 male Cherry Barbs. I have 10 males and 5 females who've never had any serious issues despite the completely off ratio. The boys really don't bother the ladies much compared to other species of fish.

I also think that they would be fine with the Gold Panchax once they're a decent size. Cherry Barbs are absolute units when they're mature, they're girthy compared to something like a Zebra Danio. GIF included below to show the size of my mature Cherries. I hope this helps!

Your barbs are lovely, that deep red is amazing! Mine are a little smaller they don't maintain such a deep red throughout the day, so I think still growing into themselves. The reason I wanted to rehome the 2 males isn't so much because of excessive chasing, moreso because there's usually 3 dominant males swimming around whilst 2 others linger around in the corners. I figured if I was going to 'overstock' the tank, I might as well remove two inhabitants (and their bioload) that were being crowded out anyway. Otherwise the 4 females I currently have fend quite well for themselves so far!
 
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